Women in Construction –

Kristi Cole – Lead Representative South Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula, Washington

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Being able to work with apprentices, especially sister apprentices. I like helping them realize that they’ve got a lot of resources to be successful and help them navigate their personal challenges. I’ve also been an ear for them to vent to. I like helping to support and empower them to push toward their goals. 

With my role as a rep, I’ve been able to create connections within my community, too. I introduce people to opportunities or to community partners. I get to see the positive change many of our members bring firsthand.

What’s a piece of advice you’d give your other sisters?
I would say, show up at your best every day. Don’t let anything outside of your circle of control get into your wheelhouse. A lot of time, we all get things in our heads from time-to-time that we can’t control. Focus on what you can. Each day is a new start and you can let go of the trouble of yesterday and keep moving forward.

Even if you’re an apprentice looking to journey out, or a journeywoman looking to step into a leadership role, you have to have a clear vision to get there. Stay connected to your allies. Align with the right people so you have support when you hit those rough patches and so you can return the favor when they need help. 

Desi Wright – Oregon & SW Washington Representative

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really like being able to help people. I like being able to help people out finding work or helping them with any issues or questions they have. It’s awesome to see some of the Sisters who come through Oregon Tradeswomen or the apprenticeship who don’t have a lot of experience. It’s rad to see them grow into these confident, badass women in our industry.

A lot of the sisters I’ve worked with have been bartenders or servers, who didn’t have health insurance. You see them progress; buy their first house, take their kids on vacations… You get to see that growth. You help them out a little and you see what a huge difference this career makes in their lives.

How do you think job sites will change in the next decade?
We’re seeing more women moving into foreman and superintendent positions. Currently, our Oregon Sisters make up around 3.32% of our members, but when you look at a delegate meeting or e-boards of locals, or participation in local events, women are heavily overrepresented.

When it comes to putting in the work, women step up. Our Sisters are making a difference by getting involved, running for officer positions, becoming delegates for their regional council, etc. We’re making strides because it matters to us and we see an opportunity for growth and change in our union.

Heather Mayther – Oregon & SW Washington Representative

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I’m a people person–I love working with and for our members. I enjoy that every day is different, too. One day I could work with a contractor to resolve a member issue and the next I could be helping a member work through a personally difficult situation that could affect their mental health. And then there are the days you might be a marriage counselor.

Since joining the union as a General Carpenter, I’ve felt really empowered to help myself and help others; I think it’s translated well into the work I now do as a Representative.

What’s a piece of advice you’d give your other sisters?
A piece of advice I carried with me through my apprenticeship and today: Remember you’re building a career and a name for yourself. 

Set goals, move with a purpose on the job and otherwise, and don’t compare yourself to others; you’re walking your own path.

Did You Know?

Apprenticeships help business.

Apprentices are great for business: helps recruit and develop a highly skilled work force; improves productivity and the bottom line; provides opportunities for tax credits and employee tuition benefits in some states; reduces turnover costs and increases employee retention; and creates industry-driven, flexible training solutions for local and national needs. Learn More


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